Mary Isbell, IPSY Postdoctoral Associate, Lecturer in English and Theater Studies

Mary Isbell has left IPSY to become an Assistant Professor of English and the Director of First-Year Writing at the University of New Haven. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut in 2013. Her book project, “The Debut of the Amateur: Nineteenth-Century Theatricals,” theorizes how the careful maintenance of amateur status shaped theatrical culture in the long nineteenth century. She recovers the material conditions of amateur theatricals to document the widespread popularity of the practice with diverse social groups including aristocrats, middle-class families, university students, office clerks, and sailors aboard naval vessels. With Judith Hawley, Mary co-directs the international interdisciplinary network known as RAPPT (Research into Amateur Performance and Private Theatricals; Her work has been published in Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and is forthcoming in Victorian Literature and Culture.

Mary has worked with students on practice-based research into the history of shipboard theatricals through a production of a nineteenth-century farce aboard US Brig Niagara and the performance of a collaboratively written rehearsal play aboard USS Constitution. She is especially energized by the ways in which digital pedagogy is making student contributions more feasible and legible. Alongside her book project, she am developing a scholarly digital edition of The Young Idea: A Naval Journal Edited on Board the H.M.S. Chesapeake in 1857, 1858 & 1859The Young Idea was an illustrated weekly newspaper edited by A.D. McArthur (a clerk aboard the Chesapeake), circulated in manuscript at sea, and published by facsimile in London in 1867. She is currently developing “The Digital Young Idea” with University of New Haven students!